Long-term disability insurance companies are well-known for hiring third-party investigators to put claimants under surveillance. They spend millions of dollars on surveillance to save billions in long-term disability claims. They want to “catch” you doing something you “shouldn’t” like taking out the trash or enjoying your grandchild’s birthday party. The goal is to get footage that they can show in court to prove you are not truthful about your limitations.
We will look at the four types of surveillance and how to protect yourself.
Type #1 Background Checks
The hired investigator will dig into your background and put together a report for the insurance company. They will include things like:
- Where you live
- Who lives with you
- How many cars, boats, or homes you have
- Businesses that are registered to you
- Driving records
- Active licenses and permits
- Criminal history
There is not much you can do to change what is already reported in your background, and the investigator usually uses this information as a starting point to investigate you further.
Type #2 General Internet Surveillance
A general internet search means they will do a basic internet search for your name or businesses. You may think there is nothing out there, but there may be personal websites, personal blogs, business websites and blogs, articles you have written in the past that may be published online, or even media interviews with your name will pop up (like being interviewed about a neighbor’s house fire). Comments that you have left on websites and photos of you can be found in a general internet search. If you think there is something that could be damaging to your case, search for yourself on the internet and work on removing whatever you can.
Type #3 Video and Photo Surveillance
Another common type of surveillance is video and photo surveillance. This is when an investigator sits outside your house, usually for multiple days, and records your daily movements. This often happens before an interview or an independent medical examination (IME). They will try to catch you doing things you shouldn’t like playing with your grandchildren or lifting a heavy bag of trash into the can. The investigator will even go as far as talking to your neighbors about your daily activities.
They will make notes about whether you drove anywhere, were you using your assistive device like a cane or back brace, if you were dressed in a way that would look bad (like wearing high heels), and if you had difficulty moving.
Type #4 Social Media Surveillance
Investigators everywhere are discovering the power of social media. Criminal investigators use it to track suspects, and the insurance company uses it to track you. Your social media account is like a look into your life, and if you are active, it can be damaging to your case. Although we advise you not to use social media during the time of your disability and your claim period, if you do use it, you should make sure that your account is very private. Do not share photos of you going out with friends, do not let people tag you in pictures, and definitely do not tag yourself at any locations.
Since we use our social media accounts as our photo albums, you are more likely to post good news and pictures of you smiling and enjoying life rather than pictures of you struggling to do basic household things like cooking, moving around, etc. Don’t give the insurance company ammunition against you.
Most popular social media websites:
The goal of the insurance investigator is to gather as much negative evidence on you as possible. The insurance company wants to “catch” you doing things you shouldn’t so they can deny your claim. Spend some time looking yourself up on the internet, try to remove what you can, and stay off of social media. Most social media accounts can be paused or deactivated, knowing that you will reactivate some time later. Stay vigilant and stay inside, and wear any assistive equipment that you have been prescribed like your back brace or cane.
Using an experienced disability attorney will help you protect yourself against insurance investigators. The Ortiz Law Firm is based in Florida but represents claimants across the country. Receive a free consultation by calling (888) 321-8131 with no obligation. We can help you evaluate your claim to determine if you will be able to access Long Term Disability Benefits and how to move forward with the process.